- Filed under: Solar Power and Off-Grid Living
- Date: Nov 12,2007
Over the last few months, I’ve been doing TONS of reading on Solar Power. It started because my sister is living in a home with no Hydro and was considering Solar Power instead of chopping down tree’s in order to get electricity installed by the power company. It turned into a small obsession for me, because I just can’t believe how much power the sun can generate and how little us humans use this power. Why am I giving so much money to the local electric company when we can all literally MAKE our own power ?! This whole investigation is what motivated me to buy land and build a house.
I’ve studied every aspect of solar power set-ups. It’s actually quite simple in many ways. Don’t get me wrong, it takes alot of reading, but anyone with just a bit of “techie-power” in them can figure it out.
This is the basics of what i’ve learned :
- Get solar panels. If they advertise they’re 100 watts, it means they generate 100 watts of power per hour of direct peak sunlight. In my area, (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) I calculate 4 hours of peek sunlight per day on average. That would mean that a 100 watt panel will generate 400 watts per day of power. The main purpose of the solar panels are to charge batteries, which in reality, is what REALLY powers the place. (The more panels you have, the quicker you can re-charge your batteries.
- Solar panels are connected to a charge controller. The charge controller makes sure that power only flows ONE WAY. (Without this, when there is no sun, the power in the batteries would start LEAVING through the solar panels. (Well, sorta) The Charge Controller also make sure you don’t over charge your batteries.
- Charge controller is connected to a Battery Bank. It’s important to use Deep Cycle Batteries. Golf Cart and Forklift batteries are ideal. DO NOT USE CAR BATTERIES ; They won’t last long. The batteries are connected together either in series or in parallel to get the voltage and amperage you want. When you connect batteries in Series, you add the voltages of the batteries together. (so 2 6 volt, 100 amp batteries, connected in series will give you a 12 volt output. 100 amps) When you connect the batteries in Parallel, the voltage stays the same, but you add the AMPS together. (so 2 6 volt, 100 amp batteries connected in PARALLEL would give you 6 volts, 200 amps) Most Renewable Energy systems are configured to run either 12 volts or 24 volts. The main difference that I have noticed, is that you need more expensive cable to carry the 12 volts from point A to B without much loss in comparison to 24 volts. So, if you have a long way to go between batteries and inverter, configure the batteries in 24 volt mode and you’ll save on wire costs.
- At this point you have a 12 or 24 volt output from a battery bank. There are 2 steps from here. There are lots of appliances that work on 12 or 24 volts. You should put a fuse box and label your 12 or 24 volt output. You can connect lights, fancy fridges, and any other 12 or 24 volt appliance directly to this output. THEN comes the regular appliances and lights. My sisters place for example, although there is no power, by law she had to install electrical plugs, and ceiling lights a little everywhere. This actually is a good thing for me, since there is existing wiring and such. Directly from the batter bank, you then connect an Inverter. An Inverter converts 12 (or 24) volts to regular household 120 volts. Inverters are a little complicated, and although you can spend thousands to get a GREAT one that will run all your regular electrical appliances, it will also drain your batteries even when not working. I plan on getting a cheaper one, that will run the lights, laptop, cell phone chargers, small microwave, but NOT the fridge or any heavy appliances. You need a speciality 12 volt fridge. (Ideally)
Now, we have panels, batteries, and we’ve connected what we need. There is LOTS more involved once you’re actually doing it. (Unless your an electrical genius) This is just my BASICS section. I may add onto it later, and if you have questions, please ask !!!
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